MO State HS Sports

Baseball Falls in Series Opener With No. 21 Kentucky

Logan Lunceford

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Despite battling No. 21 Kentucky tooth and nail for 11 innings, University of Missouri baseball dropped a 9-4 decision to the Wildcats in the opening contest of the two clubs’ three-game Southeastern Conference series Friday evening at Taylor Stadium.

Kentucky rallied for six runs in the top of the 11th inning, while Johnny Hummel struck out six hitters over 3 1/3 hitless innings of relief to lift UK (19-3, 4-0 SEC) to its fourth-straight victory to open SEC play.

The Tigers (9-13, 0-4 SEC) rallied for a pair of runs in the seventh inning to wipe out a 3-1 deficit, riding the standout pitching of Logan Lunceford and Carter Rustad to force their fourth extra-inning affair of the season. After surrendering a pair of Kentucky runs in the first inning, Lunceford settled into a groove to keep the Wildcats in check over a career-long seven-inning outing. Rustad picked up where the Tigers starter left off, retiring the first seven batters he faced, while blanking UK for three innings.

But the Wildcats used a leadoff single by Nick Lopez, followed by a Mitchell Daly double to set up their game-clinching rally that saw the visitors send 10 hitters to the plate in the 11th. Following an intentional walk that loaded the bases with nobody out, Rustad plunked Nolan McCarthy with a pitch to force home the go-ahead run. James McCoy added a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-3 game, before a Reuben Church bunt single brought in a third run.

Emilien Pitre added a back-breaking two-run single, before a ground ball to the right side produced the sixth and final Kentucky run of the inning.

Mizzou scored a run of its own on a Danny Corona RBI single in the home half of the 11th, but Evan Byers closed out the win, recording the 15th strikeout by a Wildcat pitcher in the contest.

UK gained the upper hand in the opening frame, striking for two runs on Daly’s two-out single to left.

Thomas Curry responded for the Tigers in the bottom half of the inning, belting his fourth home run — and second in as many games — over the left-field wall to cut the two-run margin in half.

From there, both Lunceford and UK starter Trey Pooser locked into the zone, combining to allow just four total baserunners from the second through the sixth innings. UK reclaimed its two-run cushion on Daly’s RBI grounder, following a leadoff double by Lopez and a Lunceford balk.

But Mizzou broke through against UK reliever Jackson Nove in the seventh, using back-to-back, two-out hits from Corona and Drew Culbertson to spark the equalizing rally. A walk to Trevor Austin loaded the bases, and wild pitches on successive deliveries from Hummel chased home two runners from third to make it a 3-3 contest.

The Tigers put just one batter aboard over the ensuing three frames against Hummel.

Corona led the Tigers with a 2-for-5 night at the plate, while Lunceford struck out four and scattered five hits over his 7.0 innings. Rustad (3-3) was tagged with the loss, working the final 4.0 innings for Mizzou.


  • With its fourth-consecutive setback in its series with the Wildcats, Mizzou dropped to 13-19 all-time vs. Kentucky.
  • The Tigers also fell to 2-2 in extra-inning games this season with their second such loss in a row.
  • Lunceford’s four strikeouts marked a season-high and pushed his season total to 22 punchouts.
  • Jeric Curtis recorded a single in the 11th inning to extend his career-best hitting streak to five games.
  • Curry has tallied a hit in three consecutive games, including a home run in back-to-back SEC games (March 17 at Arkansas).
  • Jedier Hernandez (1-for-4) has registered a hit in eight of his last nine contests.
  • With a single in the first inning, Kaden Peer recorded his first career hit in conference play.
  • Corona’s two-hit performance marked his second multi-hit effort of the season.
  • The Tigers’ seven hits marked a season best in SEC play.

The Tigers and Wildcats continue their series Saturday (March 23) afternoon with a 3 p.m. contest. Saturday has been designated St. Louis Day at Taylor Stadium, with the first 250 fans in attendance receiving a Beverage Bat, as well as the chance to win a drawing for St. Louis Cardinals tickets.

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This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics